Songdo: South Korea’s “Smart City”

With so many devices at our fingertips (literally and figuratively), technology is a frequently debated topic as it has introduced some concerns to our society such as lack of privacy, safety, and less human interaction to name a few. Fortunately, Songdo, a quaint city located in South Korea, is an unexpected reminder of all the positive impacts technology can offer.

Located only 25 miles from the larger, more well-known city of Seoul, Songdo, often referred to as the World’s first “smart city,” is a project started by Gale International in 2002 estimated to be completed around 2020. The main goal of the project is to create a city that eliminates the need for cars. In fact, residential buildings were intentionally built within 12 minutes of bus and subway stops while most non-residential buildings are a walking distance from shops, restaurants, etc.

Having been to Seoul recently, I can certainly attest to the fact that Seoul is the polar opposite of Songdo. The latter being home to about 70,000 residents with about 600 hectares of reclaimed land along the Yellow Sea.  The smart city offers 40% green space and plenty of cycling routes.

If that’s not all impressive enough, Songdo has over 100 buildings that are LEED-certified, which is the world’s most widely used green rating system.  The garbage is handled through a pneumatic tube system which sucks the trash from chutes in residential buildings to a central sorting facility in seconds. The garbage is then recycled in order to generate electricity. Computers are also built into both the streets and buildings to assist with controlling traffic flow and to also allow neighbors to video chat with one another.

Songdo is a visual display of all the benefits of technology, such as eco-friendly apartments, efficient transportation options, and user-friendly computer systems. Additionally, the city’s officials’ encourage the residents to contribute to the economy by utilizing all the city has to offer. I truly believe that Songdo has the potential to be a great success upon its completion and in turn, a model city for others pursuing a greener world.